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Workers found to be lying on their CV could be liable to repay wages

A recent Supreme Court ruling in the UK has ordered that convicted fraudster Jon An-drewes, who worked in various high-profile NHS roles for over 10 years using falsified qualifications, must repay part of his earnings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Ex-builder falsifying CV for over a decade to work in top NHS roles

In 2017 Jon Andrewes was prosecuted and jailed for 2 years, after being found guilty of lying on his CV to gain employment in a series of senior management roles within the NHS.

Over the course of 10 years, Andrewes’ roles included becoming the chief executive of a hospice, and working as a chairman for two NHS trusts; Andrewes’ claimed to have a PhD, an MBA and a significant history of working in senior management roles, whereas in reality the only qualification he legitimately held was a Higher Education Certificate in Social Work, and past experience as a builder, probation officer and youth worker.

Andrewe’s deceit was only uncovered due to a separate fraud-related investigation into staff at the hospice. Clinical Director Ann Lee reviewed Andrewe’s CV on their internal system and realised that it was very different from another CV he had used to become chairman of a separate NHS trust; these discrepancies were then brought to the attention of the police and the anti-fraud team within the NHS. Upon further investigation, none of the universities that he referenced had any record of his attendance, and much of his employment history could not be verified as true.

“It beggars belief that no due diligence was carried out when he was appointed to these roles in the NHS”

NHS source

The total earnings of Andrewes over this period of time, amounted to £643,602.91. In 2017 when Andrewes was convicted, he was initially ordered to surrender his remaining assets of £96,737; however this was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2020, as judges believed he had provided “full value” in the jobs that he carried out.

More than five years after the initial conviction, and after the release of Andrewes from prison, a Supreme Court ruling on the 18th of August 2022 ordered that the financial penalty of almost £100,000 should be reinstated.

Rather than a total confiscation of wages, the lead judges Lord Hodge and Lord Burrows noted that he performed his roles satisfactorily and decided that the difference between the higher amount of earnings made as a result of his fraudulent behaviour, and the lower amount of earnings he would have made had he not committed fraud, would be proportionate. Andrewes was therefore ordered to pay back around £97,000 of the £643,602.91 he earned during the employment.

What does this mean for employees caught lying on their CVs?

The Supreme Court ruling may set a precedent for employers to take further action when an employee is found to have lied on their CV. Until now, it could provide legitimate grounds for dismissal, however depending on the gravity of the situation and the severity of the fraud that has taken place, employers may wish to take more serious action to reclaim salaries paid under fraudulent means also.

The majority of CV dishonesty tends to be relatively minor, (examples such as grade inflation, exaggeration of experience or time spent working somewhere) however, robust pre-employment screening will not only identify these smaller “white lies” but also unearth com-pletely false claims too, as in the Andrewes’ case.

If discrepancies can be identified and flagged before an individual is employed, it then allows the employer to make a risk-based decision around that individual, and to avoid the need to potentially take court action at a later date.

No matter how serious the discrepancy or false claim is, it should be noted that lying on a CV is still a criminal offence of “fraud by false representation” under the Fraud Act of 2006.

Keith Rosser of Reed Screening commented:

“As a result, this judgment is a warning shot to jobseekers and the wider hiring community that the whole process must become more honest and rigorous."

Phil Pepper, head of employment at Shakespeare Martineau high-lighted:

“What this case will do is highlight the potential ramifications of lying or exaggerating qualifications on CVs and how serious these issues can be.”

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